Protect yourself from COVID-19 scams

The world continues to rapidly change as we learn more about the repercussions of the COVID-19 virus. Health and safety of our communities continues to be our top priority. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has also caused more cases of scam and fraud.

From phishing scams to fraudulent phone calls and fake charities, there are many ways criminals are working to get your personal and financial information. OVB BSA Officer Barb Patrick urges folks to be aware of all potential scams and to report any suspected fraud immediately.

“Report all fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/complaint) and your local bank,” she said.

If you believe you are a victim of fraud involving COVID-19, additional outlets to report to include the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at disaster@leo.gov. Cyber scam complaints may also be submitted through http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

According to Patrick, people should be particularly aware of COVID-19 related phishing scams, which can come via email and text. Phishing emails, for example, may ask you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the media, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails that seek your private information in order to send money. The emails might be designed to look like they are from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Beware of emails that might even falsely claim a link to a list of COVID-19 cases in your area.

According to the FBI, phishing emails may claim to be related to charitable contributions; general financial relief; airline carrier refunds; fake cures and vaccines; and fake testing kits. Other emails might even come in the form of workplace policy. For example, some cyber criminals have targeted workplace email accounts, which could prompt you to click a link to a fake company policy thus prompting the download of malicious software. Therefore, it is important that companies and individuals have up-to-date virus protection software installed on their devices. Follow these recommendations to avoid falling victim to phishing emails:

  • Verify email address or link. Inspect links by hovering your computer mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. It might be obvious that the website is not legitimate. However, cyber criminals are more than capable of creating links that closely resemble legitimate sources. Delete the email immediately.
  • Be wary of online requests for personal information. For example, a COVID-19 email that prompts you to enter your Social Security Number or login information is a scam. Government agencies will not ask for this information. Do not respond to any emails with your personal data.
  • Avoid emails that insist on urgency. Many phishing emails are written to create a sense of urgency, which is a major red flag. These emails are designed to demand immediate action, with the goal being to get you to enter your personal information.
  • Check for grammar and spelling errors. If an email contains grammatical errors as well as misspelled words, chances are it is a phishing email.
  • Keep an eye out for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Generic greetings, such as “Dear sir or madam” are likely not legitimate.

According to the United States Department of Justice, other COVID-19 scams to watch out for include the following:

  • Individuals and Businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online or engaging in other forms of fraud.
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share virus-related information that gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  • Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.

To combat additional COVID-19 scams, the Federal Trade Commission encourages people to hang up on all robocalls. The FTC also says to ignore all online offers that advertise vaccinations and home test kits. Currently, there are no vaccines and/or pills available to treat COVID-19 in stores or online. In addition, there are no FDA-authorized home test kits available.

The importance of fact-checking information you encounter regarding COVID-19 is essential. Scammers and even your friends, who mean well, may share information about the virus that has not been verified. Visit www.cdc.gov and www.coronavirus.gov for valid COVID-19 information. Should you need additional guidance, contact your primary care physician.

By staying vigilant and aware of COVID-19 scams, we can work together to keep our communities and loved ones safe.

 

 

 

Area schools offer lunch deliveries

The world is certainly a different place than it was two weeks ago. The COVID-19 virus has caused many businesses to temporarily close. Ohio and West Virginia will be under a “stay at home” order effective Tuesday evening. These measures to keep our communities safe and healthy has also resulted in school closures for both Ohio and West Virginia.

While school closures are a necessary step to keep people safe and practice social distancing, it also has created some difficulties for parents and students. Many of our area students rely on school to not only provide an education, but also to give them a meal each day. Several of our area students are on free lunch programs. They rely on these programs. To make sure no student goes hungry, our area school districts have stepped up to the plate with lunch pick-ups and/or delivery programs.

School lunches are considered an essential service and will still be provided. We commend our local schools for stepping up to the plate and taking care of our kids. The following school districts are providing meals:

  • Gallipolis City Schools – Gallipolis City Schools will provide pick-up and/or delivery on Fridays. Each student will receive five days’ worth of meals. As of today, students were provided with enough food to get them through until this Friday. Pick-up and delivery times will take place from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Meals will be available for pick-up at Gallia Academy Middle School. For more information and to schedule delivery, call 740-446-3214 ext. 7.
  • Gallia County Local Schools – Delivery meals to students in the Gallia County Local School District is now available. Friday delivery will include five meals and a snack pack. To schedule delivery, call The Education Connection at 740-441-3052.
  • Meigs Local Schools – Meigs Local Schools will offer pick-up locations at Meigs Elementary and Meigs Middle School. The sites are set up as drive-thru service in the back of both buildings. Both locations will offer this service on Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-noon. Each family will receive five meals per child.
  • Jackson City School District – The Jackson City School District will provide pick-up meals only at the entrance of the district’s three elementary schools as well as the entrance at the Jackson Middle School gymnasium from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. For more information, call 740-286-6642.
  • Oak Hill Schools – Oak Hill Schools will offer meal delivery and pick-up meals Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-noon. Delivery will take place on the normal bus routes. For more information, call the Oak Hill Board Office between the hours of 10 a.m.-noon at 740-682-7595.
  • Scioto Valley Local School District – The Scioto Valley Local District will distribute food for district families. Pick-up at Piketon High School and Jasper Elementary will be available as well from 10 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays and Fridays. To arrange services, please call 740-289-4117. Be sure to leave a message with your name, address, phone number, and number of children per household.
  • Mason County Schools – Mason County Schools have been offering meal delivery and pick-up at schools across the county. To check supply and for more information, call your child’s school.
  • Cabell County Schools – Cabell County Schools will continue to offer meal delivery for students. “Grab & Go” student meal sites are located across the county, which provide free bagged meals for any child 18 and under. The sites operate Monday-Friday of each week. Please call 304-528-5048 for more information.

If you do not see your child’s school district on this list, we urge you to contact their school/board office for additional information. From all of us at OVB, we thank all schools, teachers, and volunteers who are making this service possible for area children. Our best defense to combat this virus is to work together. By thinking Community First, we will get through this.

 

Focus on Community First

The world is a much different place today than it was a week ago. Even an hour ago. As this post is published, there could even be more changes. However, one thing that remains steadfast is Ohio Valley Bank’s commitment to their Community First mission.

OVB prides itself on being an independent, community bank. This is made possible thanks to the support of our local areas. As the world adjusts to a “new normal” in response to the COVID-19 virus, many lives and routines are changing as a result. Our communities have felt this affect as both schools in Ohio and West Virginia are closed. In Ohio, restaurants and bars are now limited to drive-thru/carryout options only. Movie theaters have shut their doors as well. While these measures are necessary as public health is the top priority, many businesses are going through a difficult time. Local businesses, especially, could face challenges due to closures and social distancing.

How can you help? In line with the Community First mission, try to shop locally whenever possible. Local grocery stores are still open and are a necessity as many folks find themselves “hunkering down” for the foreseeable future. What else can you do to help our local businesses?

  • Take advantage of carryout options at local restaurants. The food industry is struggling as they have been limited to drive-thru and carryout only. By ordering carryout, you achieve social distancing while also supporting the restaurant and their employees. Take it a step further by ordering several meals, which can be frozen and eaten later.
  • Purchase gift cards from your favorite local shops. Purchasing a gift card from your favorite local restaurant and store can directly help their business. As more businesses close entirely during this trying time, ask about online gift card options. The gift card purchases not only help businesses in the present but can also be used when the shops open back to full capacity in the future.
  • Shop online. If you aren’t sure if your favorite shop has an online option, give them a call to see about out-of-store purchase availability.
  • Donate supplies. Many businesses that are still open are trying their best to keep customers and staff safe by utilizing additional sanitizing procedures. However, essential items, including hand sanitizer, are becoming difficult to keep in stock. If you have sanitizer or cleaning products to spare, your donation would surely be appreciated.
  • Send a nice note. It might sound cheesy, but in uncertain times a simple act of kindness can go a long way. Letting your favorite shop know you care is a good way to boost morale. Optimism is needed now more than ever.

In addition to helping businesses, we can assist our communities by making sure local food pantries have plenty of items in stock. Consider donating non-perishable food items to your nearest food bank/pantry. Call for delivery instructions.

At OVB, the health and safety of our community and customers is our top priority. Starting Wednesday, March 18, several of our branches will be operating drive-thru only with extended hours for customer convenience. Existing customers may visit inside lobbies via appointment. For a full list of branch operating hours, visit https://www.ovbc.com/about/locations–hours.

We encourage our valued customers to take advantage of the following non-contact banking channels, including:

  • NetTeller Internet banking. Enroll at https://bit/ly/nettellerovb.
  • OVB Mobile App. Use the NetTeller link to enroll.
  • OVB Line telephone banking. Call 1-888-FONE-OVB (888-366-3682). Make sure to have both your social security number and account numbers ready.
  • Text Message Banking. Located inside NetTeller, click the “text banking” tab for instructions.
  • ATMs. OVB customers have the benefit of surcharge-free transactions at any Moneypass ATM in the nation. Other banks’ fees may apply.

At the end of the day, we are all in this together. By keeping the Community First mission in mind, we will prevail.